So, I guess technically this isn’t an anime post, but since I know a lot of my followers do play video games, and that Doki Doki Literature Club was very popular in the anime community, I wanted to share some thoughts. Expect some spoilers for DDLC, since it’s pretty hard to talk about without spoiling it.
The controversy surrounding video games and real life violence is a tale as old as time, and has been debated again and again, with neither side ever winning. And today, I wake up to a news article once again linking video games to violence, except this time, it links Doki Doki Literature Club to the suicide of a 15 year old boy from Manchester.
The article claims that the game ‘dragged’ the boy in and played havoc with his thoughts, causing him to eventually commit suicide. The father of the boy goes on to claim that the game was keeping his son up at night, and the characters were encouraging the boy to commit acts (referring to his suicide).
I have played Doki Doki Literature Club myself, so I am fully aware that some of the claims about this game – such as the characters ‘texting you’ and ‘encouraging you to do things’ are completely false. However, the point of this article is not to belittle the father’s statement about the game. Whilst I disagree with the fear-mongering spin that the journalists most likely put on his words, I do not fault the father. When we experience such a horrible event, our brain does everything to try and rationalise the situation, and it’s easy to point fault at something that seems like a very obvious cause.
But is it, really?
Unless you were one of the very first people to play Doki Doki Literature Club, it is almost impossible to go into that game and assume that it’s your standard, run of the mill dating sim. The game is tagged as a ‘psychological horror’ first and foremost, and a warning is given at the beginning of the game, and every time you open it subsequently. You are also provided with a link to the games official website, which states the following:
Yes, there are some tough issues in DDLC. We witness the girl you’re ‘dating’ hanging herself, another girl stabbing herself in the heart and bleeding out for you, alongside some disturbing text. It is correct to say that Doki Doki Literature Club is a disturbing game.
However, does that mean that it should be banned? Just because something is unsettling, should it really be purged? Should we get rid of all media that may contain content that is deemed ‘disturbing’? No, of course not. I am firmly under the belief that whilst entertainment sources, such as violent TV shows and video games could make people aware of these things, violence and violent/dangerous thoughts are not caused by them. This assumption, to me, gives off the impression that people who spend their time watching videos of a graphic nature are rather passive and stupid, unable to think for themselves.
It is not a wise idea for anyone who is suffering from these awful thoughts to play games where the themes are prominent. When I considered suicide myself as a teenager, I knew to steer clear of certain TV shows and even songs, because some of the content that they covered would probably trigger thoughts in me that were rather dangerous for me to have. That being said, these thoughts were independent to myself. It was not because of violent media that I wanted to kill myself. Whilst I cannot speak for the poor boy who took his life, I don’t doubt that he had these thoughts long before he thought about opening up Doki Doki Literature Club.
The same can be said for the cases in which video games have been blamed for murderous behaviour, such as the most famous case in the shooting of Columbine High School, linked to the game DOOM. Indeed, seeing violence on screen may cause someone who already had violent thoughts PRIOR TO THE GAME to act upon them, but the chances of this are unlikely. It in fact seems more likely that violence in video games can actually act as catharsis as opposed to encouragement. At the present, there has been no research or evidence to suggest that the same can be said for mental health issues, but it is certainly a point to consider.
The truth of the matter is, I’m sick of the witch hunt. I’m tired of the blame being put on an easy target, and society refusing to take a look at themselves to understand what could drive people to such awful ends. Because I can say with fairly strong confidence, it certainly isn’t disturbing video games.
If you are suffering with disturbing or depressing thoughts, please do not hesitate to speak up. You are loved, you are so important, and the World is a brighter place with you in it. Find a list of international suicide hotlines here.
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How do you guys weigh in on the video games and violence debate? I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts on the matter.
Until next time!